There has been a plethora of debate over States’ Rights, especially when addressing issues like the abolition of slavery, the suffrage of women, civil rights, and as of late, marriage equality in the United States. Often embedded into states’ constitutions and laws are religious beliefs or principles which oppress and harm many citizens who do not share these same religious principles or beliefs.
Most recently, Cecil Bothwell, a Councilman from Asheville City in North Carolina, was sworn into to office. Bothwell believes in ending the death penalty, conserving water, and reforming the government, but his political opponents say that it is a sin that Bothwell does not believe in God, and consequently that alone makes him unworthy of serving in office, and guess what--his opponents have the Constitution of the State of North Carolina on their side!
“The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me and it’s certainly not relevant to public office,” Bothwell said.
What I find particularly interesting in this situation is that Bothwell can’t be forced out of office over his atheist views because the North Carolina provision is unenforceable, according to the supremacy clause of the US Constitution. So much for States’ Rights!
Six other states including Arkansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, have similar provisions baring atheist officeholders.
It is time that the federal government fight to remove all religiously-inspired laws that oppress and harm citizens who do not subscribe to a particular faith or religion. As Americans, we are guaranteed freedom of religion, and that also includes freedom FROM religion.
Please sign this petition urging your elected officials to fight against such religious discrimination and oppression.